Huaxi Noodle Specialists
Crystal Mall Foodcourt
In recessionary times such as these, it is great to have a solid rotation of tasty and inexpensive meals in your back pocket…and lucky for us, the Vancouver area is blessed with many places that can quell lunchtime hunger pangs for around the $5-6 range. More often the not, I choose a noodle soup – it is a quick, complete, filling, and often quite healthy meal. A fairly recent addition to my regular “Pho, Ramen, Chinese, Taiwanese Beef Noodle” rotation is a real keeper: the Huaxi Noodle Specialists in Crystal Mall.
My usual order is from a short list of Guizhou soup noodles – often the beef tendon (#9) or plain beef (#8). Guizhou is a sorely underrepresented cuisine here in town. It is also one of the Great Eight Culinary Traditions that define Chinese classical cuisine. It is very similar to the cuisines of its neighbours in China – Sichuan and Hunan, and thus its flavour profile is also very similar: heat from chilies; sour; and salty dominate. This soup is essentially Guizhou cuisine in a bowl – hot, sour, and salty.
The usual wait for a bowl of soup is about ten to fifteen minutes since they prepare the noodles fresh to order. I highly recommend adding a dab of garlic puree from the jar by the cash register. The piping hot broth is just amazing – deep, spicy, savoury and completely satisfying. The tablespoon of the pureed garlic provides a great raw garlic kick and the cilantro topping provides a green freshness to balance it all out. The noodles are always perfectly cooked: chewy, a bit stretchy, and al dente. You also have an option of ordering it with the more traditional rice vermicelli, but I prefer the yellow wheat noodles. The beef is falling-apart tender and the tendon (if you order the #9) has a lovely sticky chewiness.
This bowl will give your favourite Pho, Ramen, Taiwan Beef Noodle a run for its money…but don’t take my word for it.